Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

The pig auditors are on the way. Get ready for them. Yes, it’s a fact.

A week ago, I received a letter from Tyson Foods stating that they will be coming to my farm to perform an audit to see how we raise and care for our pigs. We do sell most of our market hogs to Tysons, but an audit? I’ve never heard of such a thing. They intend to audit all of their major suppliers. I guess they have that right, if I want to continue to sell them pigs.

The pressure from the animal rights organizations is powerful. We have food companies of all kinds bowing to their cry. In one respect, I don’t mind the audit. My hogs are happy and well cared for. We don’t even use gestation crates, which is one of the Humane Society’s main complaints. Our sows run in the field. We should be a “poster child” for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

By the way, even though Tysons has announced that they will be auditing their hog suppliers to ensure humane treatment, the Humane Society (HSUS) is not satisfied since Tysons has not outlawed gestation crates.

Along with the letter to alert me, Tysons sent me a list of questions to see if my employees working with the pigs know how to handle them. One of the questions was:

How do you pick up a baby pig?
A. By the ear
B. By the tail
C. By the hind leg
D. By the front leg

Anyone that has worked on a pig farm knows you pick a little pig up by the hind leg. I knew that when I was 3 years old.

Where are we headed with this stuff? California has a law that eggs sold in the state must be produced with prescribed minimum space for the laying hen. In the future, McDonald’s will not use pork from farms that use gestation crates.

These kinds of demands are offensive to me. Livestock producers do all they can to keep their animals happy. An unhappy, mistreated animal will not be an efficient producer of meat, eggs, or milk. It’s that simple, and we are smart enough to know that.

That’s it for today. Be sure to vote.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.